On Monday, I wrote about former Husker player and coach Turner Gill, and the outpouring of letters when he stepped down from the Nebraska coaching staff. Turner has since become the head football coach for the University at Buffalo, and an amazing number of Nebraskans (yours truly included) have suddenly taken a great interest in the goings-on in upstate New York on Saturdays in the fall. Here's some samples of the 761 emails I received during the ten days after his resignation:
Years ago as a sophomore at Westlake High School in Austin, TX I was tasked by an English teacher to write a school report about any topic I wished. Being a Husker "fish out of water" in Longhorn country I decided to report on the history of Nebraska football. My teacher required that we all have at least 3 sources and one interview in order to write our reports. Being young and a little naive, I called the Nebraska football department and asked to speak with you about the Husker tradition, the person I spoke with patched me through to your voicemail. Imagine my surprise (not to mention my parents) when sitting at dinner that very same evening the phone rang, my father answered and said "Brent- Turner Gill is on the phone for you!" I appreciated the call and the 20 minutes you spent talking to a 14 year old kid in Texas back then, and appreciate the incredible example you have provided to the fans, players, and coaches of the Nebraska (as well as other) program. I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors and will be cheering loudly for you in whatever you pursue. Thank you and God Bless!
Dear Turner:You might remember me. I'm the guy that fills your first aid kit in the coach's office. I appreciate the fact that you we're always willing to talk and say hi. You are a class act and a great coach...you will be missed. I can't wait to root for you and your new team! I have a feeling that you will be The head coach for the Huskers someday.I'm sad to see you leave the Husker program, but that doesn't mean you aren't a Husker anymore. You will still be in our hearts and our minds forever...no matter where you are. God bless you Turner gill .
I can't even begin to tell you how sad I was to hear that you are leaving us. I got tears immediately, and as I type this, I have tears. I met you last year, at Fans Day at the Stadium, and I knew, even before meeting you, that you were a kind person, you confirmed that, that day. I have been watching Husker football since I was a little girl (born in '63 in Omaha). I am an older fan I guess, as I remember Bob being our coach, and remembering when Tom came to grace our team also. Two unbelievable coaches, with such awesome class. I remember many great players gracing our team, you are one of them. Someone that believed in respect towards fellow players, coaches, AND the fans meant,and means alot to us. I only hope that all of the above knew/know, how much the fans appreciate this.
I hope the best for you and for your family. I thank you so much for the great memories you have given us. You will never be forgotten, and hope you know you are always welcome here. Good luck to you, going for that Head Coach job, shouldn't be much of a task for someone as talented, knowledgeable, and caring as yourself. God Bless.
From a lifelong Husker fan best wishes to an incredible future. We are sooooo very sad to see you go but we know you are a man of great conviction and that conviction will comfort you as you head out into new territory! Selfishly we want you to stay. You represent everything that is dear to Husker fans.....seasons of glory, integrity, character, sportsmanship....I could go on and on......but now here is the chance to transplant a piece of all that is special about this place to another area of the country for other sport fans to enjoy and learn from. We all talk about winning but the greatest impact is influence over young lives. I am glad to see you will still be guiding and directing young men. If I had an athletic son I wouldn't hesitate a second to trust him to you. God Bless and best wishes for incredible success. But please never forget you are a HUSKER for life!
I wish to say “Thank You” for being a leader of men and an inspiration to me personally. As a kid growing up on the south side of Chicago I saw my first Nebraska football game during a Thanksgiving weekend. Little did I know that many years later I would go to Nebraska to attend medical school. When I arrived at Nebraska you were on Tom Osborne’s coaching staff. He would always speak so affectionately of you; much more than a coach speaks of a former player. I was aware of your football exploits as a player for Nebraska but I sensed that you were a special person. As I followed the team, I also followed you. I admired your dignity and spiritual grace. You were a light for my path. You have been and will always be much more than a football player or coach. Thank you for touching my life!
Blessings to you and your family,
Department of Surgery
University of Missouri
Turner,I attended the University of Nebraska from 1982-1986. I was fortunate to get to see you play. In many ways, you invented a new position, not just at Nebraska, but nationally.More impressive to me is witnessing the blessings you have brought to the University and the state of Nebraska. You are a Texan originally, but you will always be a Nebraskan to me. I hope that God's plans bring you back "home" some day. You have helped to mold many young men in your time here. You have made a difference beyond the football field...and you have done it with an incredible amount of dignity and grace. I will always be a fan of Turner Gill...not just because of what you did as a player and a coach, but primarily because of the person you are.
Thank you and may God bless you wherever His plan takes you,
COUNL Alumnus 1986
Mr. Gill,When I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, I attended a baseball seminar at an Omaha high school a month or so after the Miami - Nebraska Orange Bowl. Some Nebraska baseball coaches and players were there demonstrating some work-out techniques, and you were one of the players on stage. It was supposed to be about baseball, but the majority of the segment ended up with you graciously answering questions about the game, and about football. I remember at first feeling sorry for you for being blind-sided with football questions at a baseball seminar so soon after what must have been one of the most disappointing events in your life up to that point. One question gave people the "green light" to ask another, then another...soon you had answered questions about that game, that decision, and that play for over a half-hour.As a high school kid, I had always idolized you as a player without knowing what kind of person you were. By the time the emcee' finally cut off the football questions, I then respected you as a man. You didn't wince, you didn't shirk the questions...you stood as a strong young man of character and answered all of those tough questions with grace and class. I was blown away.But that's not all. I've never been a big "autograph" guy, but at a break in the conference right after this question and answer session, you were alone in the cafeteria getting a coke, so for the first time in my life I asked, and received an autographed picture of you, which I hung in my locker for the next 4 years. From that point on, whenever people discuss whether athletes are role-models or not, I tell people about you and that day. I tell them that whenever I have had to stand up and be accountable, I have drawn on that memory as an example of how to display strength and class in unpleasant situations. Yes, athletes are role-models, and you were as good as the get.Thank you, Mr. Gill, for the great memories from your days on the field...but also to your service and example off the field. Not only for the scores of Nebraska football players you've coached over the years, but also the people you've never met.
I'll be sad to see you leave, but I wish you the best of luck wherever you end up. I hope my son has the privilege of playing for you in about 13 years...even if you end up being the head coach for OU, CU, or K-State!
Coach Gill –I’m sure you’ve received many e-mails from a grateful Husker Nation thanking you for your service and dedication, but I also wanted to add my thanks and appreciation for everything that you’ve done for our state and our program… and everything you’ve stood for… over the years.
These past few years must have been difficult to you and your family, and your decision to leave the coaching staff was undoubtedly one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to consider. I know and trust you are guided by a higher calling, and that – combined with the reality that you and your family will always be in our memories, thoughts and prayers – will hopefully make your future changes in life easier to consider.
I will always be a Husker fan. And now, my second favorite team will always be the one with which you are associated.
Good luck and God bless.
Coach Gill,As the mother of a current Husker player I want to thank you for the positive influence you have been to my son over the past three years. You have been a role model to many young men who have gone through the NU football program. As a long-time Husker fan I want to thank you for the many years you have given to Nebraska football as a player and coach. You were always a class act and we could count on your love and loyalty for Husker football to shine through in any and all circumstances. Best of luck in your future endeavors and may God bless you and your family.You will be missed.
Mother of current player
Many thanks, Turner,,,,First for being the kind of person with faith and integrity that provided an outstanding model for our young men to emulate as they finish off their early development years. While all your other accomplishments were tremendous, this stands out and has made people respect your other accomplishments even more.
Second for the dedication to the University and the program to which you chose to make your early contributions in your career. Never has any question been raised of your commitment and loyalty to Nebraska by any of the thousands of followers out there - how very rare indeed when dealing with the public.
Third for your efforts as a player some seemingly many years ago. Your talent, work effort and dedication brought glory to yourself and to the University.and finally for not letting your success become a distraction to you as a person.We all wish you the very best in your further career, and while we will miss you we celebrate the time you spent with us. You will always be part of the Husker family - no matter which color you wear on the sidelines. I admire your courage to step out into the unknown and seek additional growth.
Dear Mr. Gill
I'm sure it was a hard day for you when you announced your resignation from the Husker program. I regret to inform your that your resignation has been denied. There is no way that you can possibly leave Husker Nation for you will always be a part of it. I wish you all the best in your pursuit of a head coaching job. I am confident that you will find one.Thank you for all the memories. I was a Boy Scout ushering at Memorial Stadium when I got to watch you perform your skills. You were a diamond in the rough. You were blessed by learning from one of the greatest coaches of all time. You executed the option to perfection but that isn't the most important impression that you will leave at Nebraska. My wife is from Goodland Kansas and her sisters baby sat Brook Berringer. They went to the same church. Going back to Goodland and listening to the people there was amazing. The way that you, Coach Osborne and Coach Brown conducted yourselves and spoke at Brook's funeral showed a lot of people who the people of Nebraska Football really were. They weren't just coaches with a desire to win. They were coaches who cared about their players. But most importantly, coaches that believed in God and could comfortably talk in public and profess their faith. That was a lasting impression on a lot of folk from Goodland Kansas. And to me, the most special thing about you.
And recently, I've been fortunate enough to attend the last 6 coaches clinics in the spring since I started coaching football. I've enjoyed learning from you. I wish I could thank you in person but you have things to do. I'll pray for you and I hope you know you are always welcome in Husker Nation.
God Bless You,
As a student at the University your junior and senior years (and a fellow North Texas graduate), I really hate to see you leave, partly because it marks the end of an era, in my opinion.You won't remember this but I have been able to tell this story many times over the years. It was August of 1982, you were coming off that leg injury. You were wearing a red t-shirt that said something like "I'm okay, the legs okay, I'm gonna play". I was walking out one of the Union's revolving door when I heard a thud. You were right behind me, but because I was pushing the revolving door faster then you, it hit you. All I could think of was I was a punk freshman who just reinjured Turner Gill's leg and my face was going to be on the front page of every Nebraska paper! Fortunately for me, you were not hurt.Best of luck in whatever you do. I will be rooting for any team you become a part of... unless they are playing NU or North Texas of course.
Thank you so much for the memories and for being a positive influence on the “BIG RED” for so long. You won’t remember this but when NU played Ole Miss at the Independence Bowl a few years ago, my 9 and 11 (at the time) year old sons met you at the hotel before breakfast on game day. Not only did you talk to them, you took at least 10 minutes out of what I know was a hectic day and really talked to my boys. My oldest is very upset that you are leaving. I want you to know that no matter where god takes you and I’m sure there is nothing but greatness ahead for you, that I as well as my boys will always be Turner Gill “fans”.
El Paso, AR